AMIA Offers New Directions for CMS Innovation

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Nation’s clinical informatics professionals underscore the importance of informatics tools in new delivery reform models

In comments submitted yesterday, the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) offered several suggestions on how the CMS Innovation Center should approach future payment and delivery models, supported by health IT and health informatics. The nation’s experts in health and biomedical informatics recommended that CMS look for ways to provide “innovation support” to grantees, while also leveraging new models and pilots to further promote and optimize the use of informatics tools and capabilities for improved patient care.

The Innovation Center issued a Request for Information (RFI) in September, seeking input on ways to promote patient-centered care and test market-driven reforms that empower beneficiaries as consumers, provide price transparency, increase choices and competition to drive quality, reduce costs, and improve outcomes. It also sought stakeholder feedback on additional related ideas and concepts, as well as on the future direction of the Innovation Center.

In response to the RFI, AMIA strongly encouraged the Innovation Center to “consider ways it can provide innovation support, not simply financial support, to transform care delivery.” Innovation support could include (1) dissemination of best practices and education modules developed by successful awardees; (2) creation and dissemination of benchmarks for workforce competencies, especially for data analytics and IT skills; (3) development of a commons for shared resources, such as workflow redesigns and software integrations; (4) funding or credit for informatics researchers who develop useful tools, such as dashboards or other visualizations; and (5) funding for shared informatics tools or services that can be used by any EHR/HIT or HIE system, including shared clinical decision support services, and tools for population health, social determinants of health in clinical care, chronic care management, and care coordination.

“The CMS Innovation Center has served as an important laboratory for improved quality and reduced cost across thousands of physician offices and hospitals,” said Thomas Payne, MD, FACP, FACMI, AMIA Board Chair and Medical Director of IT Services at the University of Washington’s UW Medicine. “Now, the Innovation Center must reflect on experiments that have worked, as well as those that haven’t, and disseminate important lessons learned for those who wish to be successful.”

Weighing in on the Innovation Center’s potential models, AMIA “envision[s] that informatics competencies will be prerequisites for success across every focus area described in this RFI.” Thus, AMIA suggested that the Innovation Center provide direct funding and implement enhanced application requirements that further promote and optimize the use of informatics tools and capabilities in these models. “Just as clinicians are expected to use medical devices and pharmaceuticals to improve patient outcomes,” AMIA argued, “so too must we expect them to leverage evidence-based informatics tools and methodologies.”

“Future success will be dependent on how well we collect, analyze, and apply data to patient care,” said Douglas B. Fridsma, MD, PhD, FACP, FACMI, AMIA President and CEO. “As the Innovation Center considers its future role, it’s imperative that it considers ways to improve and optimize the use of informatics for patient care and clinician satisfaction. By leveraging its funding streams and application requirements to improve informatics tools and methodologies, the Innovation Center could be well-positioned to have a lasting positive impact on the U.S. healthcare system.”

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AMIA, the leading professional association for informatics professionals, is the center of action for 5,400 informatics professionals from more than 65 countries. As the voice of the nation’s top biomedical and health informatics professionals, AMIA and its members play a leading role in assessing the effect of health innovations on health policy, and advancing the field of informatics. AMIA actively supports five domains in informatics: translational bioinformatics, clinical research informatics, clinical informatics, consumer health informatics, and public health informatics.